Since the founding of CHAPS
with the demolition of the Butler County Infirmary, our organization
attempts to turn the negative energies that come from losses of historic
structures and funnel them into a positive preservation movement for the
Constructed on a hill overlooking Hamilton, the Butler
County Infirmary opened in 1884 in Fairfield Township. The
home expanded over the years, but was deemed unsafe and
antiquated by the 1960's. Butler County Commissioners choose
to build a new home for the county's elderly in 1976.
After sitting vacant for several years and being
used as a haunted house, the commissioners choose to tear
down the structure. Preservationists--including the founding
members of CHAPS--formed the 'Save the Old County Home'
committee that objected to the demolition. The group won a
grant to perform a feasibility study to evaluate the
building's preservation potential and filed an injunction
blocking the county from taking down the home. Suspiciously,
however, fire broke out in the building shortly after and the county
used the fire to have the injunction lifted.
County Landmark finally fell in 1983, but it has not been
forgotten. Those frustrated over the building's loss formed
CHAPS and have assisted in saving countless other treasures.
of the most recent historic losses in Butler County,
Middletown's stately YMCA was built in 1923 for $400,000.
The building was a main component of the Middletown Civic
Association's $1,000,000 Civic Improvement Fund that
included a grand memorial building which never materialized.
The design was completed by the prominent Cincinnati
architect Samuel Hannaford. Upon completion, the new YMCA was deemed to have every need
for the "symmetrical development of the physical man." In
1985, Middletown choose to abandon the structure, completing
a new facility next store.
After years of minimal use and neglect, the YMCA
was leveled in 2005 to make way for a new surface parking
VAN VOORHIS GYMNASIUM
University completed this Romanesque Revival gymnasium in
1897; it was originally called Herron Gymnasium. In 1923,
after a donation for the construction of Odgen Hall required
the new building be constructed west of Herron, the building
was moved 522 feet to the east. In 1953, the building was
renamed Van Voorhis, and, shortly after, recommended for
demolition in campus planning. The gymnasium was used for
art instruction until the new art building opened in 1985.
In 1986, Miami announced plans to demolish the
historic gym, alarming both preservationists and sports fans
as the building was important in Miami's "Cradle of Coaches"
legacy. CHAPS lead an extensive study of the structure by
Jones and Speer Architects who deemed the facility viable
and worthy of restoration. But, in the end, despite the study
and the building's listing on the National Register, Miami Trustees
voted to level the 89 year old structure.
'New' Hamilton High
victim of the city's growth, both of Hamilton's historic
High Schools have been lost.
Central Public High was constructed in 1891 by
the Bender Brothers. The ornate four-story structure was
located downtown at the corner of Second and Ludlow Streets.
The building featured a strong central tower and stonework
around the entrances. By 1915, however, the building had
been added onto several times and yet still couldn't
adequately serve Hamilton's growing high school population.
The "New" Hamilton High School was ready for
occupancy in September 1915. The four-story structure was
designed in the English Renaissance Style by Frank L.
Packard of Columbus and local architect Fredrick Mueller.
The building interior included a large auditorium that sat
1,500 on its main floor and balcony. A result of the baby
boom, the Board of Education deemed the construction of two
new high schools--Garfield and Taft--to be constructed in
1959; the old high school building was reused as a junior
high and renamed Harding. By the 1980's the building had
fallen into disrepair and it was closed and
ARMCO GENERAL OFFICE BUILDING
in 1917 by the American Rolling Mills Corporation (renamed
ARMCO Steel in 1948), the stately General Office
Building served as the company's headquarters for decades.
The red brick building was graced with ten engaged columns
across its grand facade and was noted for its impressive
lobby upon opening in June 1918. Although Armco headquarters
were relocated from the Curtis Street building in 1985, the merger between Armco
and Kawasaki Steel created AK Steel which choose to reoccupy the
building as their new headquarters in 1994.
In 2007, AK Steel finalized plans to discontinue
use of the building and relocate their corporate
headquarters to West Chester Township in southern Butler
County. The move was completed the following year, leaving
the building and surrounding campus vacant. After standing
as a landmark and reminder of Middletown's profound
industrial legacy for over 90 years, the building was
leveled by the company in October 2010.
first building on Miami University's campus opened in
1818. The building was called Franklin Hall before receiving
its more common name, Main, or--as it was referred to
later--Old Main. A new east wing was completed in 1824
and replaced in 1898. The west wing was replaced in 1869.
The grand building, which was completely remodeled and
enlarged in 1898, featured two matching towers at the
intersection of the wings that flanked the center portion of
the building. Throughout its history, Old Main held dorm
rooms, a gym, chapel, and the library. In 1931, the building
was renamed Harrison Hall as expansion restructured the
After years of neglect, the state
condemned Harrison Hall and Miami choose to
demolish and recreate the building, rather than restore one
of the oldest collegiate buildings in Ohio. Harrison Hall was torn down in 1958 and a similar
structure rose on its site in time for Miami's 150th
Anniversary in 1959.
AND ROOSEVELT JUNIOR SCHOOLS
McKinley Junior High
Roosevelt Junior High
Middletown constructed two new junior high schools in 1930:
McKinley and Roosevelt. The grand buildings each shared a
similar floor plan, but featured different exterior
architecture styles: Roosevelt in Colonial Revival and McKinley in
English. McKinley was erected next to Verity Parkway, a new
state route that was constructed over the former Miami-Erie
Canal. Roosevelt took a prominent location on Central
Avenue, just across the street from the elite Highlands
neighborhood. Both buildings were converted for use as middle schools in 1969
and to an elementary schools in 1981.
Middletown City Schools has embarked on a rebuilding program
that includes demolition of numerous historic schools.
McKinley was one of the first victims, falling in 2004 to
make way for a new elementary on the site. Roosevelt
remained occupied until 2008 as the temporary home of
Wildwood Elementary. District officials delayed demolition
two years to allow residents to investigate reuse of the
structure, but the building was finally leveled in November
Completed in 1856, Fisher Hall was originally home to Oxford
Female College. The building was an odd mix of Gothic,
Federal, Greek Revival and other architecture styles. By
1926, the college had disbanded and Miami University
acquired the structure for a dormitory. During WWII, it was
temporarily used as a naval training school. In 1957, the
theater department took over the building until it was
totally abandoned in 1968.
Fearing demolition, the National Trust for
Historic Preservation released a report on Fisher Hall's
preservation potential in 1973, urging the university to
choose reuse over demolition. The National Register building
was finally torn down in 1978.
'CENTER PUNCH' BLOCK
textbook example of 1960's urban renewal, the
'Center Punch' project in downtown Hamilton resulted in the
loss of seventeen structures in the block bounded by High,
Market, Front, and Second Streets. The idea was to bring a
modern department store to downtown. Hamilton received $1
million in federal funds in 1965 to acquire and demolish the
properties, some up to 140 years old. The most tragic losses
were the two buildings at High and Second Streets which were
each four-stories in height. After demolition, an Elder Beerman
Department Store and the Butler County Administrative Center
were constructed on the site.
PRESBYTERIAN AND FIRST BAPTIST CHURCHES
circa 1883/1906; razed 1951/2013
As Middletown grew eastward with new housing, congregations
moved with their members. Two historic South Main Street
churches designed by prominent architects were lost due to
Completed in 1883, First Presbyterian Church cost nearly
$50,000 and was designed by famed Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford. The
building was positioned immediately south of the Sorg Opera House. One of
the church's most interesting features was the extremely
ornate, high tower at its corner. After the congregation left the building in 1950
for a new colonial structure outside of downtown, the stone
church was razed in 1951. A parking lot now exists on the
old church site.
by architect Frank Mills Andrews, First Baptist Church was
constructed in 1906. Andrews worked on a number of notable
projects including the Kentucky State Capitol. Paul Sorg
provided a $10,000 donation to jumpstart the church's
building program. The Bedford Stone-clad church was vibrant
until 1972, when First Baptist moved to a new location. In late 2005, fire swept through the rear of the
building, but not destroying the Santurary. After several
redevelopment efforts failed to move forward, the church was
dismantled and the stone shipped to Texas to be
reconstructed within a shopping development.